The Women’s March on Washington drew a massive crowd on Saturday, Jan. 21 with estimates placing attendance at 500,000 — three times the total of those who viewed the inauguration of Donald J. Trump one day earlier.
More impressive, other “sister marches” concurrently took place in over 600 locations across all seven continents, including Antarctica, leading to a global day of action that generated a collective crowd of millions. But despite the numbers, some women of color said they weren’t impressed due to a lack of greater diversity among the participants, adding that while women of all races attended, the wide range of issues that resonated with the collective made it all but impossible to establish any sense of real solidarity.
“If there was intersectional unity at the Women’s March on Washington, I failed to see it,” said Chi Nguyen in a post on medium.com.
“In spite of what [was] supposed to be an incredibly inspiring moment for me in seeing black and brown folks leading the movement, it quickly turned sour by the impatience and disrespect from white folks throughout the rally,” she said.
Nguyen referred to the lack of chanting in support of those representing Black Lives Matter and a general lack of interest among the crowd for speakers from marginalized groups like when the crowd chanted “March” drowning out the words of well-known activist Angela Davis, speaking after the rally had continued beyond its scheduled time.
Takina Pollock, an African-American woman from Connecticut, said concerns voiced by women of color were not exaggerated. She cited the lack of transgender inclusion as a factor of discontent on a Facebook post.
“Let’s not forget women of color had to demand to be included on the Women’s March platform in the first place,” she wrote.
“Critiquing the march and talking about our experiences with its attendees isn’t divisive. But telling marginalized people to ‘be more positive’ as a response is,” she said.
The event was planned to protest Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric and his proposed polices that organizers felt undermine women of all walks of life. White women who dominated the organizers of the march were criticized for calling it the Million Women March — the same title used for other marches organized by Black activists in the ’90s.
Issues that leaders of the march said they hoped to address included: reproductive rights, criminal justice reform, freedom from sexual violence, disability and immigrant rights, employment equality, LGBTQ rights and environmental protection. However, some women of color said they lacked a sense of comfort marching alongside white women who overwhelmingly voted for Trump at 53 percent.
Some Black women chose to opt out of the march given the history of their exclusion from the modern-day feminist movement — others decided to join in to raise their own concerns.
“If you’re concerned about diversity, why take yourself out of the situation?” questioned one African-American woman and a native Washingtonian, Camille Dulic. “Put yourself into the situation — be the voice.”
Her partner, Keith Mitchell, said while there were clearly more white participants, she was pleased to see more minorities joining in as the event went on.
“We’re out here letting our voices be heard and letting [Trump] know what we want. It’s important we support each other,” she said.